How to Treat a Cat That Has Been Sprayed by a Skunk

An interaction between your cat and a skunk may sound quite funny as an idea, perhaps reminiscent of the Looney Tunes series in which the skunk womanizer Pepé Le Pew relentlessly tries to woo a female black cat, thinking it’s also a skunk.

In reality, however, such a scenario is far less amusing, unfortunately, at least for you. It’s nothing like the times when you can just sit back and let the best automatic cat litter box do all the work for you. On the contrary, this situation requires very prompt and calculated actions on your part in order to keep both your cat and your home smelling nice.

In that spirit, here’s what you need to do and the steps you need to do it in if your cat is sprayed by a skunk.

First Things First

Before anything else, you must isolate your cat, because the skunk’s spray is oily and very easily transmittable to materials like fur and leather. If you don’t contain your cat, besides it, you will likely have to de-skunk your entire house, especially the furniture.

The Cleaning Solution

Many people make the mistake of using things like vinegar, tomato juice, and even actual commercial skunk odor removers, which merely mask the skunk’s smell rather than actually eradicating it.

What you need to use is a baking soda solution, comprised of ¼ cup of baking soda, 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1 full cup of warm water, and 2 teaspoons of dish soap. The larger your cat, the more mix solution you might need, but the ratios should remain the same. If your cat is big and you don’t feel like doing too much math, you can simply make 2 batches of the solution.

There are a couple of vital rules you must follow when it comes to the container which you mix the magic potion in. First, it has to be plastic. Second, it’s crucial that you keep the container open, since closing it can cause the gases to build up and play off of each other, increasing the risks of an explosion, akin to the ones that occur in underground meth labs.

Also, don’t think about keeping any solution leftovers.

Once you’ve prepared the solution, use it as soon as possible, ideally within the hour for optimal results. After an hour, the mix’s potency starts diminishing.

Your Outfit

It’s important to put on some clothes you won’t miss, as well as some rubber gloves to protect your skin.

The Cleaning

Prompt Actions

The actual cleaning is fairly straightforward, if you don’t count the part where you have to get a cat soaked, possibly a cat that’s already agitated. First and foremost, to make both your cat’s and your life easier, try your best to calm your pet down.

With that being said, when de-skunking a cat, time is of the essence. While there’s no fixed time limit, the sooner you do it, the better, as the longer you wait, the deeper the skunk’s smell with seep into your cat’s fur and skin.

Soak up With Paper Towels

Before you start washing your cat, try to soak up the skunk’s spray that hasn’t seeped deep into the fur yet with paper towels. This way, the cleaning solution will go a longer way.

It’s important to actually soak the spray up, using a pulling motion, as if you’re pulling it away from the cat’s hairs, as opposed to wiping it since that will only spread and smear the oil around, making your job even harder.

Washing Your Cat

First, get your cat wet with warm water to make the cleaning solution more effective. Then, pour some of it on its fur and gently rub and spread it with your hands (covered in rubber gloves.) A sponge can also come in handy.

Be very protective of your cat’s eyes – to clean its head, use a cloth, soaked with the solution.

wash your cat
The process of washing the cat in the bathroom.

Rinse and Repeat

Once your cat has been soaking up the solution for around 10 minutes, you can rinse your pet thoroughly with warm water. If the smell proves to be stubborn and lingers, then repeat the previous step.

Wash with Shampoo

Once your cat is back to smelling normal, give it a final wash with its pet shampoo this time, then rinse it off with warm water.

Read more: Ways To Decode Your Cat’s Behavior

Addressing other Affected Areas

If you think your cat may have gotten some of the skunk’s spray in delicate areas like its eyes, ears, nostrils, and/or mouth, use wet cotton balls to gently soak some of it up.

Washing your skunked cat isn’t rocket science, but it has to be done promptly and carefully. If you’re still worried about your cat’s wellbeing and/or simply its odor, consult a vet.

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